As I mentioned previously, Amplify Governance currently as two projects on the go: All Voices Matter (AVM) and Ghana Internally-generated Funds Technical Support (GIFTS).
The purpose of GIFTS is to help the Ghanaian government implement a property tax system.
Right now, municipal governments have two sources of funding. The first is the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF), which is supposed to be 7% of the national income earmarked to be given back to municipalities each year. Unfortunately, however, that rarely happens. Most of the municipal workers I’ve talked to have the attitude that if the DACF money comes then yay! But it’s probably not coming so don’t count on it.
The other source of funding is the District Development Facility (DDF). This is made from international donor grants that the municipalities seek out themselves or in partnership with each other. For example, the World Bank has given a number of Ghanaian municipalities an Urban Development Grant. Although the amount of money changes every year, this funding sources is viewed as much more reliable than the DACF.
Buuuuuuuut…in the midst of this mess, GIFTS is coming to the rescue!
To help municipalities fund themselves, GIFTS is developing a property taxation system. In Vancouver, for instance, commercial and residential property taxes are a significant source of funding to run the $1+ billion City of Vancouver budget. The hope is that property taxes will provide a stable, reliable source of income for the municipalities. In turn, the municipalities will have more money for basic service delivery to their citizens. They’ll be able to improve upon education, water and sanitation, roads, etc.
The first step for GIFTS is to create proper maps of the municipalities. How can you charge property tax when you don’t what properties are there? So the GIFTS staff have trained teams of locals in GIS mapping skills and are sending them out to map the neighbourhoods and paint road numbers (addresses) on each property.
Even if GIFTS was to fall through for some reason, these maps and property painting are still a huge step forward for the municipalities.
GIFTS is also examining businesses to improve Ghana’s business registry – another key piece in the taxation puzzle.